1.10.2008

start them early and train them right

We started watched "The Journals of Knud Rasmussen" the other night, the second movie by Aboriginal director Zacharias Kunuk.

We both really liked his first film, "Atanarjuat the Fast Runner". "Atanarjuat" is the first feature film made in Inuktitut, the language spoken by the the Inuit people. It's based on an ancient Inuit legend, and is a gripping, compelling story. It's also a chance to visualize how early hunter-gatherers lived, what their daily lives might have been like. That was fascinating.

With that in mind, we expected to enjoy Kunuk's "The Journals of Knud Rasmussen". But no. To say we didn't enjoy this movie is being kind. We couldn't sit through it. It was just plain boring. You know I'm not a shoot-em-up, car-chase, armies-on-the-plains kind of movie watcher. But geez, something has to happen. Anything!

Because we didn't like this movie, I ended up watching "Futurama," and because I was watching "Futurama," I ended up seeing an ad... And this ad that drove me crazy.

I didn't write down the name of the "toy" being sold, but Googling, I found this: Rose Petal Cottage, part of the Dream Town collection by Hasbro.

It's a playhouse. In the ad, two happy, long-haired, white girls are opening and setting up the playhouse, which is filled with "accessories" - which, of course, are sold separately.

And what are these accessories?

A toy washing machine.

A toy kitchen sink.

A toy muffin-making set.

And of course, a toy nursery, complete with crib and baby.

To which I can only say: AAAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!

I can barely articulate my disgust. I am reduced to rhetorical questions.

Do you see how early the indoctrination begins?

Are these toys playhouses ever marketed to boys? Or are girls the only people who need to practice laundry, baking and child care? (Does anyone really need to practice doing laundry?)

Why is work marketed as play? Of all the infinite varieties of play these girls might want to try - all the building, creating, climbing, colouring, running, pretending, experimenting - why do they need to play at doing the fucking laundry??

I'm not suggesting that baking and child care are drudgery on the order of laundry (although for me they would be much worse!). Baking - real baking, of real food - can be fun for any child. All children can enjoy playing with dolls. But link baking, laundry and baby in a "dream house" marketed exclusively to girls, and you've created a very specific kind of monster.

Of course there's nothing wrong with "playing house," and when kids invent a "let's pretend" game on their own, it can be a fun exercise of their imaginations.

But that's not what Rose Petal Cottage is about. This is gender-role indoctrination and insatiable consumerism all wrapped up in one neat, expensive, made-in-China package.

And my final rhetorical question: What century is this?

On the toy's website, there's a link to watch the commercial.

59 comments:

James Redekop said...

Do you see how early the indoctrination begins?

I just saw an ad for a new console game for girls. The objective is to become a Paris Hilton-style superstar through shopping, modeling, and record deals.

Are these toys playhouses ever marketed to boys?

'course not. That'd turn 'em queer.

(Not that I ever had one, myself...)

Why is work marketed as play? ...Why do they need to play at doing the fucking laundry??

Well, to be fair, work is marketed as play for boys too -- except for boys, it's physical labour like construction (cf. Tonka).

What century is this?

Hey, it used to be that those girls would be doing real laundry and drudge-work at that age, rather than just playing at it...

laura k said...

I just saw an ad for a new console game for girls. The objective is to become a Paris Hilton-style superstar through shopping, modeling, and record deals.

Yes! I see that one all the time on the Toon Channel. "Just turn the dial, and choose what kind of celebrity superstar you want to be!"

laura k said...

Well, to be fair, work is marketed as play for boys too -- except for boys, it's physical labour like construction (cf. Tonka).

That's true. I never think of that as work-as-play, because so few kids of any gender will grow up to drive a truck or work in construction.

Also because those toys seem like fun to me and these don't!

I'd be bothered A LOT less if all toys were marketed to all kids.

Hey, it used to be that those girls would be doing real laundry and drudge-work at that age, rather than just playing at it...

Too true. In many countries, they are not far away. Indeed, possibly in the countries where the crappy toys are made. Maybe they're even working in those factories...

James Redekop said...

I'd be bothered A LOT less if all toys were marketed to all kids.

There's too much gender bias in society as a whole to make it worthwhile for toy companies to do that.

The biggest successful cross-over in toys was "action figures" -- the successful marketting of dolls to boys, along with doll houses in the form of Action Command Centres and the like. But only after they've been masculinized by adding guns and armor plating! Otherwise, it's part of the conspiracy to feminize America's boys!

Marketting doll houses to boys without the guns and gear is just begging to be boycotted into oblivion (not to mention that even folks who won't boycott you aren't likely to actually buy the thing). The indoctrination actually begins even earlier than the ages these toys are geared at: these toys are geared at these ages because the indoctrination is already in place by that point.

laura k said...

There's too much gender bias in society as a whole to make it worthwhile for toy companies to do that. . . .

The indoctrination actually begins even earlier than the ages these toys are geared at: these toys are geared at these ages because the indoctrination is already in place by that point.


Absolutely.

And amazingly (to me), most people seem to believe stereotyped gender roles are innate, genetic and not learned. The learning is so pervasive, so all-encompassing, so insidious - it's practically the air we breathe - that for many people, it's invisible.

Amy said...

It is surprising and disappointing that that kind of marketing STILL goes on in 2008.

Although I wholeheartedly agree that these values and stereotypes continue to permeate marketing and advertising as a whole, I do sometimes wonder whether there are not some innate differences even with respect to play. When my daughter turned two, we bought her two toys for her birthday: a dump truck and a doll. She immediately favored the doll and had no interest in the truck, except as a bed for the doll

She did not watch ANY tv at that age, and we, her parents, were certainly not sexist in our roles with her or around the home: we both cooked, cleaned, did laundry (to be fair, Harvey did most of that), worked outside the home, and cared equally for her. So where, at two, did she learn to prefer dolls to trucks? Did we unintentionally deliver some subliminal message? I don't know. We sure tried very hard not to.

So...nature or nurture? Got me.

laura k said...

So where, at two, did she learn to prefer dolls to trucks?

Maybe she preferred them because she is herself, a unique person, and not because she is a female. People do seem to have innate personalities, so your daughter's preferences could have been her own and not necessarily gender based.

It's a pretty small sample size on which to base any assumptions, as I'm sure you realize. I could tell you that I preferred trucks to dolls and that wouldn't prove anything. And neither does your daughter's preference of dolls over trucks.

I wouldn't unequivocally state there are no innate gender roles, because I don't think we have enough information to make that claim. However, I think a huge percentage of behaviours that people assume are innate roles are in fact learned.

Amy said...

Good point that this may have just been her personality, not her gender. And it certainly is a small sample size though I have known many parents to say the same thing about their daughters or sons taking on stereotypical gender patterns. I agree that most of these things are learned; I just wish I knew how to control what we "teach" when we aren't even aware what we are teaching.

laura k said...

I agree that most of these things are learned; I just wish I knew how to control what we "teach" when we aren't even aware what we are teaching.

That's a very good point, and a very tricky issue.

If we knew definitively that some gender roles are innate, I wouldn't see that as a bad thing.

The bad thing is limiting both boys and girls to such narrowly defined choices - and the cultural "gender policing" that discourages, stymies, marginalizes, and sometimes severely punishes people from exploring and enjoying the full range of human options.

It's gotten much better, at least for girls. There are more choices and colouring outside the lines is easier now. It's still awful for boys. But then I see a commercial like this...

... and it drives me fucking nuts. :)

allan said...

Maybe at age 2 she was drawn to a softer type of toy rather than one that seemed hard and unyielding. (shrug)

Amy said...

I agree that it has gotten much better for girls than for boys. My daughters got to do lots of things I never got to do in school or growing up: play team sports, do wood shop, ask boys out, be on the debate team, etc. I think girls worry much less now about whether they are doing something that is not "ladylike." Boys, on the other hand, still have to worry about being teased as "sissies" if they want to do ballet, sing opera, sew or knit.

Of course, as adults, women still can't look too tough or too soft. Too tough and they are considered bitches; too soft and they are considered weak. Take the most recent example with Hillary and her expression of some emotion. Some people thought it humanized her; others thought it showed she could never be President. When male candidates have shown emotion, no one thinks they are weak; when they act angry or tough, no one calls them a bitch or aloof.

Jen said...

"two happy girls... are setting up the playhouse"

L-girl, you missed the 2008 subtext: the 2 were imagining their future life married to each other... or maybe that's just my read as Leah and I spent the weekend doing, guess what? Laundry and baking.
;)

s1c said...

Dolls, tonka trucks, when I was that age I loved the boxes. I still remember when I was about 5 or 6 we had a new refrigerator delivered and the box that it came in became my spaceship (I even had all the planets in their orbits so that I knew where I was going), then a puppet theater, a castle (even dug a moat) and then a race track and then my Dad got tired of seeing this ragged old box and tossed it. I was crushed! Loved the old card board boxes.

Of course the best was when we lived about 2 blocks from the red river, my Grandpa would bring down these wax coated chicken boxes (he was a butcher) which we would flatten and use as sleds on the grass of the levee's. Just give me a box any old day and I was in heaven!!!

laura k said...

L-girl, you missed the 2008 subtext: the 2 were imagining their future life married to each other...

[slapping forehead] D'Oh! How could I have missed that?! :)

laura k said...

I agree that it has gotten much better for girls than for boys. ... Boys, on the other hand, still have to worry about being teased as "sissies" if they want to do ballet, sing opera, sew or knit.

And they have to worry about much worse than being teased. They have to worry about being ostracized, beaten up and possibly killed.

Of course, as adults, women still can't look too tough or too soft.

I'll go this one further too. I'll venture that in many situations, it's a complete no-win situation. In business and politics - still a male domain, even now - nothing a woman can do is right. She'll be criticized no matter what she does - too this, too that.

I usually say this regarding women's reproductive choices. Too many children, no children, not enough children, has children too early, has children too late, fusses over them too much, is too involved with her own life, works outside the home, stays home with kids too long... it never ends. I have seen and heard women criticized for whatever choices they make regarding children, family and work.

And the criticism is, more often than not, from other women, who feel free to pass judgement on everyone else's choices.

BAH.

Amy said...

S1C, we loved those boxes also when I was growing up. Ours were usually clubhouses where we could have secret meetings, or we would roll down the hill inside the box.

Those were good, non-sexist toys---as well as free and good for the imagination. Today kids' toys seem to confine the imagination, rather than stimulating it.

Sigh.

laura k said...

Allan may have something there re doll vs truck. Dolls are softer, and they look like people - they are cuddle-able. Trucks are not.

And of course s1c has a point about the boxes. If your family gets a new dishwasher or refrigerator, an extra-big toy comes to the house.

laura k said...

Ours were usually clubhouses where we could have secret meetings, or we would roll down the hill inside the box.

I was going to say the same thing!

Those were good, non-sexist toys---as well as free and good for the imagination.

This too! I was going to note how good an empty box is for imaginative play.

I think kids still play with boxes. Or I hope they do.

Amy said...

I would buy the soft v hard thing on dolls and trucks if I thought a boy toddler also would prefer the doll, but I have seen boy toddlers pushing those trucks around and ignoring the dolls. Who knows?

I don't know if kids get those big boxes nowadays. When we have gotten new appliances (granted, not very often), the delivery guys take the box apart on the truck and bring in the appliance on a dolly. No box left behind. (No child left behind? No, I didn't mean that.)

laura k said...

No box left behind.

:-)

All I can say is, I liked trucks and I like dolls. I liked playing cops and robbers, and I liked playing house.

But then, there's ample evidence that I'm a freak of nature.

James Redekop said...

Loved the old card board boxes.

My siblings & I used to make 50s Sci-Fi movie style computers out of boxes, with levers and knobs and slots and paper-tape output. That was long before my father got his KayPro II computer for word processing.

James Redekop said...

Those were good, non-sexist toys---as well as free and good for the imagination. Today kids' toys seem to confine the imagination, rather than stimulating it.

Lego is still going, better than ever!

laura k said...

Lego is still going, better than ever!

I love Lego! Lego was one of my favourite things about being a nanny.

Good point, tho - building toys are non-sexist and imaginative. And - I think - generally given to both boys and girls.

impudent strumpet said...

Heh, the laundry thing was my first reaction too. Baking is fun enough - you get to play with grownup tools that you aren't normally allowed to touch, do something moderately messy, and come out with yummy food that you aren't normally allowed to eat - but laundry is just stick it in the machine and then take it out later.

And I'm someone who normally can appreciate girly toys (we had 30 Barbies, and a kitchen set, and toy sewing stuff that we could use to make actual clothes for our Barbies), but the laundry thing I just don't get.

laura k said...

And I'm someone who normally can appreciate girly toys (we had 30 Barbies, and a kitchen set, and toy sewing stuff that we could use to make actual clothes for our Barbies), but the laundry thing I just don't get.

Allan and I were once at someone's house for Xmas Eve - disgusting relatives of ours, to which we are no longer related, thanks to the smartest thing my sister ever did (get a divorce).

One of these dumb shits bought my niece a toy vacuum cleaner for Xmas! We were dying. I think my tongue may have bled from my biting it.

Amy said...

I loved Legos also. I think I played with them as much as my kids did.

In fact, I loved wooden blocks growing up. I yearned for my cousin's train set, but when he outgrew it, it went to my brother, not me. I never had trucks to play with, but lots of art supplies, puzzles, games, records, books, etc. I never had a Barbie nor did I want one, but I did have a baby doll, which I loved.

s1c said...

Well, since we are also going to list our favorite toys:

1) Tinker toys!
2) Chess Set
3) Chemistry set
4) Expandable slot car race tracks, the more lane switches the better, when we moved to the farm my brother and I took over the entire back porch with the race track even built overpasses.

impudent strumpet said...

Oh, I would have loved slot cars! I was always looking at them in toy catalogues and looking at how complicated the tracks could get, but - and I never realized this before - I never thought to ask for them because it was always boys pictured playing with them!

I didn't consciously think they were for boys only (if you'd asked me, I would have said of course not) and Santa totally would have gotten them for me because we had plenty of ungendered toys and our parents were always trying to make us less girly (which clearly didn't work), but I just sort of subconsciously thought that was the boy section of the toy catalogue because all the pictures were of boys, so it wasn't for me. I never realized that before!

s1c said...

Kind of in the spirit of this post a new book is out Playing with the Boys by Eileen McDonough and Laura Pappano. A review is here. Looks interesting, of course with b-fly looking at colleges it is probably too late for this book for her to read (amy, I think we got a brochure from your college the other day :) ).

Amy said...

S1C, sounds like an interesting book. It's funny that you posted that because this whole thread here reminded me about how much I wanted to play Little League Baseball growing up (always loved baseball). I was not terribly athletic, but it made me angry that only boys got to play baseball (and there were no softball leagues for girls back then either).

As for the college, feel free to contact me directly. You can find me at the college's website under the law faculty.

laura k said...

I loved Tinker Toys. And I LOVED my brother's (brother's!) slot cars. We would try to build Tinker Toy and Erector Set buildings around them, with the tracks running through and around the buildings, very futuristic looking, or so we thought.

The cars never worked that well. If you got any kind of speed going, they flew off the track on the curves.

I loved these - but I never had my own. They were my older brother's. I don't think I cared that much or that it made me sad or frustrated, but they were clearly not bought for me.

It's funny that you posted that because this whole thread here reminded me about how much I wanted to play Little League Baseball growing up (always loved baseball). I was not terribly athletic, but it made me angry that only boys got to play baseball (and there were no softball leagues for girls back then either).

God, that sucks.

That's been a big change. Little Legaue is all mixed now. And most suburban kids play soccer now, which is all co-ed.

laura k said...

I didn't consciously think they were for boys only (if you'd asked me, I would have said of course not) and Santa totally would have gotten them for me because we had plenty of ungendered toys and our parents were always trying to make us less girly (which clearly didn't work), but I just sort of subconsciously thought that was the boy section of the toy catalogue because all the pictures were of boys, so it wasn't for me. I never realized that before!

Psychoanalysis through blogging! Whoo-hoo!

(And I think the slot car thing was the same for me.)

laura k said...

S1c, thanks for the link.

Women's and girl's sports has been a sea change in US society. Hooray for Title IX!

Amy said...

Little Legaue is all mixed now. And most suburban kids play soccer now, which is all co-ed.

Yup. My daughters played T-ball, soccer, and girl's softball, all things that were not available to me as a child.

But even for them, Little League was almost all boys, softball all girls. And the boys' fields were nicer, they had full uniforms (whereas the girls' teams had just t-shirts and caps), and by the high school level, there were very few girls playing either softball or baseball as compared to the number of boys.

So things are better, but there is still a long way to go---even with Title IX.

What are things like in Canada? Is there an equivalent to Title IX? Is sexism more or less an issue up there than here or the same?

s1c said...

The cars never worked that well. If you got any kind of speed going, they flew off the track on the curves.

Banking of the curves was always key! If you got the banking just right and had the right set up on the car, you could just fly around the curves.

Not sure if they are still as prevalent, but while my dad was going to Oklahoma Tech there used to be slot car tracks and races at various sites. These things were huge, you had to memorize the track because you would not be able to see the complete course (your car had to have a pennant attached on an whip antenna so you could see where you where on the track) and had to depend on people around the track to put you back on if you spun out.

As for title IX, good stuff but the problem with a lot, if not most colleges / universities is the money aspect. If you don't have a viable Football program that can bring in big money the schools have to cut too many other sports to balance the costs (of course the # of men in that program causes other compliance problems).

What would help the women's game / opportunity is for the Colleges and Universities to have successful revenue producing sports. Sadly very few schools though can say that. UCONN is fortunate because the Womens Basketball team is not only good, but it sells out its home games and adds to the coffers (Tennessee is another), but then UCONN has always done a good job of promoting the women sports.

The number one problem though, is that in a lot of sports, the development of the athlete is not quite there yet to produce the highlight reel. Example, Candace Parker is really the only woman basketball player who can routinely dunk during a game, while most of the men players can slamma jamma and have been that way for 30+ years. Still, the womens game has came a long way since the 70's and is quite enjoyable if you aren't expecting play above the rim (coach Wooden says they play the game the right way).

James Redekop said...

3) Chemistry set

Of course, proper chemistry sets are extinct now; the chemicals in them can be used in meth labs, so they've been banned by the War on Drugs. Pretty much any chem set you get these days just has a couple of colour-changing tricks and a thin book.

laura k said...

So things are better, but there is still a long way to go

That's the mantra for all social progress.

I was about to go to bed, so I thought I'd just say "Hooray for Title IX" without the qualifiers - so I'm glad you guys filled in for me. :)

If you don't have a viable Football program that can bring in big money the schools have to cut too many other sports to balance the costs (of course the # of men in that program

Yes. They have to cut them. Historically, the money has been spent 100% on men's sports. Now that money must be shared among all sports. Period.

Why is it such a fucking big deal that men's programs have to be cut, when women's programs have been either under-funded or completely NON funded for the entire history of these schools?

As for the slam dunks and highlight reels, I vastly prefer the women's game over the men's game in basketball. I'm not alone in that. There's tremendous interest in women's basketball - as everyone from New England must know!

Highlight reels are not the problem. Parity in sports education, funding and participation from the earliest days will produce great women's sports - as we've been seeing for the last 15-20 years as the first Title IX girls grow up.

Women's sport doesn't have to imitate men's sport to be good or to attract an audience.

laura k said...

What are things like in Canada? Is there an equivalent to Title IX? Is sexism more or less an issue up there than here or the same?

I don't have any direct knowledge of girl's and women's sports up here, and certainly none on the school level, so I can't speak to that at all.

Re Title IX, there's no need for those kinds of things, because it's all covered in the Charter.

Canada has two main documents from which all equality in social issues is supposed to flow - the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, known as The Charter, and the Human Rights Act. (Provinces also have their own Human Rights Codes.)

The Charter is only 25 years old - written during modern times, when Canada was "repatriating" its Constitution - so it is extremely inclusive. For example, it's the first federal document to include people with disabilities. (Which is not to say there's no discrimination against people with disabilities here.)

This is partly why same-sex marriage came relatively quickly here - to deny it is a violation of Charter rights. There was a movement, of course, and there was opposition, but it was so clearly a Charter violation that it was inevitable. ("It was ... inevitable!") Also there's no massive Christian regressive movement in politics here, that helped too!

There's a lot of sexism in the media here, especially for women in politics. Last year a prominent (and good-looking) female politician changed her hair colour and it was on the front page of every newspaper.

But on the other hand, there's a lot of sensitivity towards that kind of thing and reaction against it. During a campaign, a male MP made a sexist comment about this same female MP, and he was excoriated for it from all corners. And not because his target is so beloved, far from it. It was just considered way out of line and plain old wrong.

In Canada there's a lot more of what the wingnuts deride as "political correctness", but which I see as inclusion and consideration. Maybe it starts from everything having to be bilingual and always include both French Canada and English Canada, and goes through the rest of society.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and "Your Guide" to the Charter

Wikipedia on The Charter

laura k said...

Of course, proper chemistry sets are extinct now; the chemicals in them can be used in meth labs, so they've been banned by the War on Drugs.

And I'm sure that's really cut down on meth production... [eye rolling]

s1c said...

Why is it such a fucking big deal that men's programs have to be cut, when women's programs have been either under-funded or completely NON funded for the entire history of these schools?

Do you want more women sports? If the answer is yes, then you should be upset when they cancel a program, because they aren't adding a womans program. If you want title IX to be really effective then you want them to add women teams, not cut teams to maintain a status quo on the womens side.

laura k said...

Resources are finite. I see nothing wrong with cutting funding from the men's side and adding those funds the women's side, aiming for parity of funding. That's what I meant.

Amy said...

Thanks for all the information about the Charter. I was going to ask more questions about its history and adoption, but I see that you have provided some links, so I will follow those and learn more.

I am learning more and more how little I know about the law outside the US and about how I need to know a great deal more than I do.

Thanks again!

Amy said...

Re Title IX--I think that S1C is right with respect to the reality of what goes on in colleges. Colleges will not add more programs that only cost money and do not generate revenue. So if program funding has to be equal for men and for women, they tend to cut men's programs rather than adding women's programs to even things out. It has meant that some of the "lesser" sports for men have been cut as a result.

Much as I love baseball, if a college has to choose between spending money on sports or on books or faculty or the arts, I would say cut the sports and use the money for other programs. In a world of limited resources, that's the reality. So if men's football eats up the school's budget for men and they cannot have a boxing team or a frisbee team, so be it.

laura k said...

I am learning more and more how little I know about the law outside the US and about how I need to know a great deal more than I do.

You're welcome! All of us who were educated in the US have the same problem. Unless we've made some special effort to learn about how other countries work, we'll never know - since we're certainly not taught that in US schools.

So if men's football eats up the school's budget for men and they cannot have a boxing team or a frisbee team, so be it.

Right. The boxing team and frisbee team can raise their own funds, as women's sports and sports for people with disabilities have done forever.

Amy said...

I have only looked at it very quickly, but it is interesting how many parallels there are between the Charter and the US Bill of Rights, at least textually. How they are interpreted is another matter, of course. The big difference between the two that I see is the equality clause. Although our 14th Amendment has been interpreted to provide equal protection under the law, the categories of what kinds of discrimination are prohibited are not explicit, as they are in the Charter. Much of the anti-discrimination law in the US is therefore left to statutes like Title IX, which can be more easily repealed or at least rewritten by Congress.

I am sure legal scholars have written on the similarities and differences, but to me, this is all new and quite fascinating.

s1c said...

aiming for parity of funding.

See, I want them to add money, because I want the mens and womens programs adding to the coffers of the University. I haven't found it yet, but there was a good story about Ohio State University and their title IX compliance. The University has an equal number of womens and mens programs and is at the max number of programs. As a whole, and I am just going on memory the school spends 104 mil a year for sports. They bring in around 130 million. So they add to the university.

However, two sports basically bring in 50-55 million of that Football (35-40) and Basketball(the rest), which is why Football coaches and the Basketball coaches get their holier than thou attitudes etc.

They thing is, they are the only university out of over 100 universities that play football that max out all of the programs available for both sexes.

laura k said...

s1c, I'm not overly concerned with what adds revenues to the universities. The best human pursuits do not necessarily add revenue to anything.

laura k said...

I have only looked at it very quickly, but it is interesting how many parallels there are between the Charter and the US Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights was clearly an inspiration - especially since there's no equivalent in the UK. The amazing thing to me is how young the Charter is.

Amy said...

Yes, it is very new, but according to Wikipedia, there was a predecessor to it, the Canadian Bill of Rights, that was purely statutory in nature, not constituional. It also appears that even before that, there was something called the Implied Bill of Rights, I assume based historically on English common law. So although there was no written constitutional document before 1982, Canadian law apparently did protect certain fundamental rights and liberties long before that.

laura k said...

So although there was no written constitutional document before 1982, Canadian law apparently did protect certain fundamental rights and liberties long before that.

Oh sure, absolutely - but that was only by tradition, the way it still is in the UK, the "implied" or "unwritten" constitution. Not enough power for the people - and too much power at the whim of government.

(Obviously a set of laws is only as good as the people who interpret and enforce them, as we're seeing now in the US.)

Amy said...

(Obviously a set of laws is only as good as the people who interpret and enforce them, as we're seeing now in the US.)

Sounds like what I am constantly teaching my students. Words are subject to interpretation, so what matters is how they are interpreted and applied, not what they seem to mean in the abstract.

Mara Clarke said...

Lots of points to make on this.

First – I have friends in Sweden who are on a mission to stop gender identification of children. They have 2 boys, now 6 and 4. They allow their boys to choose their own clothes, which means their older son is often out and about in white shirts adorned with flowers, hearts and fairies. But what makes them crazy is how it starts in DAYCARE. They specifically picked out a daycare (which being Sweden is of course completely subsidised but I digress) which claimed to be gender-neutral. Unfortunatley this translated into, when a boy fell down and cried, the care worker exclaiming loudly, “Look, even a BOY can cry.” Jeesh.

Secondly, do you remember Free to Be, You and Me? Carol Channing has a great track called “Housework” in which she educates little kids about the fact that the smiling women on TV dusting, washing, etc were paid to do so and that “Your mommy hates housework, your daddy hates housework, and when you grow up, so will you” before extolling the merits of sharing the work to get it done more quickly. If you don’t have the album, buy it. I do, for all my friends who are expecting.

Thirdly, the physical Christmas cards we sent out had a photo of our then 10 month old daughter playing in a box with the caption “I don’t need no stinking playpen.”

Fourthly, one thing that is huge in Europe are little baby strollers for toddlers to push around, almost as much to help them walk as for putting dolls in, for boys and girls. It’s adorable to see little boys pushing around little pink strollers.

laura k said...

Words are subject to interpretation, so what matters is how they are interpreted and applied, not what they seem to mean in the abstract.

And words can be plain old ignored, as the beautiful words of the US Constitution are too often these days.

laura k said...

Hi Mara! Welcome to wmtc!

(Mara and I know each other from NYC. Now she's in the UK, en route one day to NZ.)

Thanks for the great comment. That is very encouraging news.

Secondly, do you remember Free to Be, You and Me? Carol Channing has a great track called "Housework" in which she educates little kids about the fact that the smiling women on TV dusting, washing, etc were paid to do so and that "Your mommy hates housework, your daddy hates housework, and when you grow up, so will you" before extolling the merits of sharing the work to get it done more quickly.

Brilliant. I remember it - Marlo Thomas, right? - but don't remember any details, if I ever knew any.

Fourthly, one thing that is huge in Europe are little baby strollers for toddlers to push around, almost as much to help them walk as for putting dolls in, for boys and girls. It’s adorable to see little boys pushing around little pink strollers.

Cool! The closest thing I've seen is in supermarkets and big stores like Ikea - but the kids are pushing little shopping carts, so it has that whiff of consumerism about it, starting them off shopping as early as possible. No dolls, tho.

impudent strumpet said...

I have friends in Sweden who are on a mission to stop gender identification of children

That reminds me of this joke.

The Bems, being well-versed in the area of sex roles and psychology, had decided to raise their children androgynously. This included not only the typical male-toy/female-toy aspects, but they were also very careful not to impose any of their own learned sex role socialization upon their children. For example, a frequent phrase was "the only difference between a male and female is that a male has a penis and a female has a vagina." When the parents were asked whether a person that the child could see was male or female, they would reply (even if the parents could tell which it was), "I don't know, dear, they have pants on, so we can't see if they are male or female."

One day, their son (then in Kindergarten) decided that he wanted to wear hair barrettes to school. Sandy and Darryl, of course, acquiesced and put barrettes in his hair.

That night, they got a phone call from his teacher (who knew about the Bems' rearing plan), who related the following story:

Upon arriving at school, another boy came up to their son and asked why he was wearing barrettes in his hair. Little Bem replied, "Because I felt like it." The other boy was visibly upset at this, but walked away.

A little while later, the boy comes back and says, "Why are you wearing barrettes in your hair? Only girls wear barrettes; you must be a girl." Bem, true to his upbringing, replies, "I am not a girl; I have a penis and testicles, girls have a vagina." The boy once again walks away.

During recess, the boy comes back once again, and insists that Bem is a girl because he is wearing barrettes. Once again, "The only difference between boys and girls is that boys have a penis and testicles and girls have a vagina."

The little boy exclaims, "You must be a girl; you're wearing barrettes." But Bem replies, "I'm a boy; I have a penis and testicles. Look--I'll show you!" At this point, Bem pulls down his pants to prove that he has a penis and testicles...

The boy replies, "Everybody has one of those, but only girls wear barrettes."

Amy said...

Love the joke!

Free to Be You and Me: Yes, Marlo Thomas in the 7os, after That Girl and before Phil Donahue. The book was considered quite revolutionary at the time.

laura k said...

The boy replies, "Everybody has one of those, but only girls wear barrettes."

It took me several minutes to get it. Not sure what that says about me - or the joke.

impudent strumpet said...

I think it means these comment boxes aren't the best layout for long wordy jokes.

laura k said...

You're very kind. :)